Archive for September, 2011

The General Concept of Decentralization

Decentralization, in general, is a shift of leadership concentration from a central authority to erstwhile subordinate or quasi-independent units or sectors. Such a shift  occurs in an organizational context where centralization or a centralized state of affairs no longer responds to the general needs, expectations, objectives and aspirations of the majority of stakeholders therein.

Types of Decentralization

Distinguishing decentralization as political, administrative, fiscal, or market is useful to focus on the multifaceted dimensions that lead to its successful operationalization and inter-sectoral coordination among them. There is, however, an obvious overlap in defining any of these terms and the accuracy of definite descriptions are not so significant if viewed against the more important need for a comprehensive approach. Political, administrative, fiscal and market decentralization may also be relative to diferent forms and combinations across nations. Within national territories and even within sectors. For the present purpose, the focus is on political decentralization.

Political Decentralization

Political decentralization aims to empower citizens or their elected representatives in public decision-making. It is generally geared to promote pluralistic politics and representative government. More than that, it likewise strengthens democratic processes by giving citizens, or their representatives, more influence in the efficient and effective formulation and implementation of policies, programs and plans. Political decentralization advocates believe that decisions made with greater participation are more substantial and essential in content as well as more relevant to varied concerns and interests in society than those made only by national political authorities. The concept of political decentralization entails the notion that the choice of representatives from local jurisdictions gives citizens the opportunity to know better their political representatives. It also allows elected officials to have a better understanding of the needs and desires fo their constituents.

Political decentralization basically requires a radical statutory shift, the active development and encouragement of pluralism in terms of organizational or party participation in the body politic, the robust strengthening of legislative capabilities, the brisk organizing of local political units, and the enthusiastic encouragement of effective public interest formation.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa

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The Philippines is multi-lingual and having “Filipino” as the “national language” of the Philippines is purely and simply a figment of our imagination. I belong to the Tagalog ethno-linguistic group and that pseudo-language we call “Filipino” is actually Tagalog. If we make Tagalog in the guise of “Filipino” as our national language, we undermine and deride the other equally significant Philippine languages like Ilokano, Cebuano, Ilonggo, Pangasinense, Pampango, Bicolano, and others. In the process we get the wrong notion that Tagalog is a better and greater language than the others I just mentioned. Take note, however, that the Philippine languages mentioned are bona fide languages and NOT dialects. In this light, we are faced with the challenge to enrich all the living Philippine ethnic languages.

I maintain that there is actually NO Filipino language. What we call “Filipino” language is really Tagalog. Now if we use Tagalog as the medium of instruction across the board, that’s imposing too much of the wrong notion that Tagalog has the preeminence over and above the other Philippine languages (and I am talking of languages, not dialects). Do you think it is fair to impose Tagalog as the medium of instruction in schools in the Ilokano-speaking provinces? in the Bikol region? in Cebuano-speaking provinces? in Ilongo-speaking provinces? I believe that all of these Philippine languages should be developed and high-quality literary outputs should come out in these languages. I am a Tagalog and I am a passionate advocate of strengthening the literary talents of my fellow Tagalog. With the same passion, I likewise want to see the flourishing of the literary talents of other ethno-linguistic groups.

Without sounding offensive, “Filipino” as it is spoken in total disregard of Tagalog syntax is truly bastardized. But if one would dare say that the Tagalog language is not the language of the learned, I will vehemently react to that, being a member of the Tagalog ethno-linguistic group.

This issue is quite complicated and sensitive. There are people called Filipinos and they are citizens of the Philiippines. But the Philippines is a MULTI-LINGUAL country. Tagalog in the guise of “Filipino” has been bastardized by non-Tagalog Filipinos who have been guiled and even forced to speak Tagalog as the “Filipino” language. In the process, these people have developed the tendency to treat their own ethnic languages as second-class and less significant than the so-called “Filipino” language. This tendency is counter-developmental because instead of robustly promoting the development of ethnic languages and ethnic literature using ethnic languages, the promotion of “Filipino” as the national language systematically and gradually annihilates these very valuable ethnic Philippine languages in the ocurse of time. Ilokano, Ilonggo, Cebuano, Bikolano, etc. have their own rich literary heritages and if these ethnic languages along with the others are promoted, their literary traditions could have been very rich by now.

Don’t get me wrong. In holding this view I don’t think I become less nationalistic. Let me cite Cuba as a case in point where the national language–Spanish–is supposed to be a colonial one. But the issue of having Spanish as their national language has never been a nationalism issue. They have mastered Spanish as their common language and they are as united as ever even in fighting the biggest imperialistic power in the world and in having the resolve to survive all the bullying they have been getting from this power for decades.

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I. Intensity in Education: A Dialectical Consideration

Education nowadays as well as the process within it is measured more in terms of extensity than of intensity. Hence, the more relevant burden of academic scholarship in the present era is to locate the concrete vantage point where extensity and intensity may fully be coordinated to effect the realization of the truly educated individual. The lopsided thrust of education and its required features focuses more on the superficial in the matter, manner and method that it possesses. This is in the area of extensity and the problem with the unilateral emphasis on it is the inadvertent isolation of intensity which capitalizes on depth and quality. At the end of the road, we find extensively “educated” individuals who are more particularly interested in the degrees attached to their names than in the essential depth of what they possess in the intellect.

Thinking aloud, it could be surmised reasonably that despite the presence of an array of multi-degreed academics, the general landscape of national life is still seen to be retrogressive and less promising. More realistically, the academe and real life do not match up and fit well together for what is taught in the academe are matters so artificial, real life does not need them and real life is so concrete the academe, replete with abstract notions peddled by “schizophrenic” professors, is just a superfluous nuisance.

The intensity of education lies in the fact that it should be a realistic reflection—a committed theorizing—on what is actually experienced in life. It should be a deeper exploration into the dynamics and mechanics of actual life-events interconnected among themselves and constitutive of a system that prevails at a certain moment of ongoing history. Such education can only lead to a better understanding not of the theory that expresses the understanding but of the practical life given interpretation by the theory. In this condition and situation, real authorities are a common sight and their contribution is not to the growing statistics of half-cooked doctoral degree holders but to the economic vibrancy, political stability, social empowerment and cultural intensification.

To be more specific at this point of the discussion, the dialectical notion of progress that characterizes authentic education as an intense reflection of actual practices in social life should permeate every process operationalized in it in the forms of instruction, reseach, and extension. In other words, dialectics operates not only in terms of extensity but in terms of intensity as components of the entire system complement each other to achieve a higher level of development.

II. Academic Credibility Getting Lost in the Jungle of Absurdity

This is the most infamous idiocy we now encounter in less-credible Philippine universities and colleges: academics possessed with the guts to brag their graduate and/or post-graduate degrees as if these are the end-all of their existence—unmindful of THE WEIGHTIER SUBSTANCE OF SCHOLARSHIP expected of the schooling that they spent to get their degrees. This circumstance is further complicated by bestowing these people with the title “Professor.” On a closer look, the worst is, almost none of them have actually produced serious writings and research studies of scholarly worth much less, being quoted and/or cited in prestigious refereed journals and volumes of deep sophistication.

The eyes of pride and arrogance light up as these pretenders are addressed “Doctor” or “Professor.” But in reality, their conceit and haughtiness emanate from the higher salaries they get by virtue of the academic degrees they boast. They are the paper tigers of the academe. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is the only institution that recognizes their importance (if they are truly important); not the more trustworthy scholars and scholarly societies based in more credible academic locales. No reason is therefore engendered to persuade “the authentics” to offer lectureship stint to “the pseudos.” The real won’t dare.

This condition in the Philippines has been so rampant and hence alarming. In the face of this reality, “academic excellence” claimed by most universities and colleges has gone equivocal and hence meaningless.

III. Basking Under the High-Noon Sun of Hardcore Delusion

Some second-rate private universities and colleges in the Philippines are now levitating under the magical spell of the Commission on Higher Education’s make-believe power after these institutions have been granted an autonomous status by the latter. Hubris is the most appropriate term for the spirit that has possessed them. A certain type of delusion has overpowered their leaderships in the belief that they are now in league with the illustrious Ateneo and De La Salle. What a horrendous hallucination!

The irony of the present circumstances is they are in a state of unequalled “high” despite the hard reality that they cannot actually lay a solid claim to an array of distinguished honest-to-goodness scholars from among their stockpiles of “doctored” degree holders. Ateneo’s and De La Salle’s doctorate degree holders are authentic scholars who have produced academic outputs of high scholarly worth published in notable scholarly journals, local and international. Ateneo’s and De La Salle’s academic scholars have read papers and lectured in prominent conferences and forums, local and international.

But the present situation of these mediocre institutions is still salvageable given the condition that they will soon wake up to reality. Face-to-face with reality, they can soberly locate themselves right at the place where they can start off: the call to challenge genuine scholars and the guts to weed out incompetence in their faculty ranks.

IV. A Postscript for Serious Rumination

The following quote from a letter by a certain Michael Riggs (http://freeenergynews.com/Directory/Beware/Bearden_Bogus_PhD/#Comment_mcriggs) is worth reflecting as it challenges us to reconsider a lot of misguided thoughts on higher education:

“While one may not agree with me, the definition of a diploma mill is an educational facility where one meets minimal, structured, educational requirements in order to acquire a degree. While I do not wish to belittle the efforts of those who have gone through the prescribed educational processes required, by say, the top 100 universities, I would say that based on the end result, our top-rated universities definitely meet the definition of diploma mills, including any “top” university you wish to select. Let me explain why I would say this.

Modern-day academia, (and thus the university system) is an unbroken loop of self-regulating, self-perpetuating, self-promoting, ego-centric elitists where the prime qualifications for maintaining “impeccable credentials” is to hold the faith, retain those concepts learned by rote, and be able to repeat them as taught. And I’m supposed to be impressed? Keep in mind, once you attain that Ph.D, you don’t have to accomplish one single thing, and you don’t have to make any contribution in understanding our world in order to be considered one of the establishment elite. Within academia, it is sufficient to theorize some minor facet of a known and familiar science, do some tests, document the same, and then,( and this is the key element,) do whatever it takes to get your results published. After all, publication to physicists and scientists is the ultimate goal. Never mind that your obscure work will never be read, never mind that your determinations are meaningless. Just get published. Ride the current and don’t make waves. And this approach is meaningful and superior?

The only thing that should matter to anyone is the end result. The result of our newly graduating Ph.D’s is that they have the basics, but until one may contribute to our collective knowledge, or successfully accomplish a breakthrough, then all they have done is spend time in a specified regimen.

Our current educational system is stagnant, and is turning out stagnancy. That is why we are doing the same old things with brighter, newer equipment.”

© Ruel F. Pepa, May 2010

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I was at the Cavite provincial office of the Department of Education (DepEd) more than a month ago. While waiting for the person I was supposed to see, a broad organizational chart with the names of specifically designated individuals filling various official positions on display right at the office’s lobby was quite visible once I entered the premises. As I looked very closely I was sort of amused to find out that most of them–if not all–were holders of the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree.

With all this in mind while leaving the place afterwards, I couldn’t help but reflect on a very serious matter besetting the quality and standard of education we have in the elementary and secondary levels most basically in the public schools as well as in myriads of substandard private schools being run mainly for business. The whole pathetic situation has been going on despite the fact that we have an “army” of Ed.D. degree holders who are supposed to be experts and specialists in the formulation of more effective and efficient educational and pedagogical theories on the basis of empirical research studies these people are supposed to be doing instead of merely proudly displaying and flaunting their “bubble” degrees devoid of credible substance.

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